Mystery Vehicle Damage -- Who Dunnit?

Jim Luff
Posted on September 9, 2009

No one ever seems to know how minor damage occurs.  Some say the dent fairy did it.  I think of fairies as good luck so I think dent fairies should fix dents at night while you sleep.


I would feel much better wondering how the dent fairy fixed a dent overnight while I was sleeping than wondering who amongst us lacks honesty, integrity and character to simply "man up" and say, "I did it!"


The three day weekend came and went.  A new dent came during the same time.  Unfortunately, it is still here today and will be there until I take the car to the body shop, spend $1000 and get it fixed all while never knowing who did it.  Even if I did know who did it, there is very little I could do about it.  It is illegal to charge a chauffeur for damage to a vehicle.  It is actually illegal to charge any employee for any shortage or breakage according to federal law designed to protect the employee.  For those of you who think your little accident fund is legal because chauffeurs volunteer to chip in, guess again!  All the employee has to say is that he felt coerced into contributing because "the boss said everyone does it" and he/she was in fear of losing the job by not "playing along".


However, in some cases, if you can prove conclusively that damage was caused by negligence, you can deduct from the employee's check to recover your loss.  Proving negligence would have to be something like aiming the car at a brick wall and hitting it at high speed to see if the car would knock the brick wall down.  Now, that clearly is negligence.


But, that isn't what we are talking about here.  We are talking about misjudging distances and scraping gas pump guards, the entrance to the garage, other cars in the garage and similar stationary items.  So, it happened!  Why not just "fess up"? 


Today, my car was guy tells me there is a new dent in our Excursion limousine.  He says he knows for sure when he washed the vehicle on Friday, the dent was not there.  The chauffeur who drove it Friday night says he did a pre-trip walk-around and there was no damage to the vehicle at all.  On Saturday, it went out in the morning and that chauffeur also says there were no dents in the vehicle.  On Sunday, three cars rolled.  On Monday two cars rolled.  So, now we have seven suspects.  It could have been the Friday night chauffeur and the Saturday chauffeur lied about his pre-trip and didn't do one because no one was around.  It could have been any one of five chauffeurs who may have moved the Excursion to get their assigned car out of the garage leaving both Excursion chauffeurs looking like suspects when both really left the vehicle in good condition.  Since none of the five chauffeurs were in the garage at one time, nobody saw anybody do anything - of course. 


There is a winner and loser in these matters.  The loser is the company and the winner is the body shop!

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